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Parade talks: Theresa Villiers has another shot at ending Ardoyne standoff... but fears ‘Groundhog Day’

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Secretary of State Theresa Villiers reiterated that devolving the tax powers could have a "transformative effect" on investment and jobs

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers reiterated that devolving the tax powers could have a "transformative effect" on investment and jobs

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers reiterated that devolving the tax powers could have a "transformative effect" on investment and jobs

The Government is to launch a new bid to resolve a bitter parading dispute in north Belfast which is the source of intense community tensions every summer.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said she was embarking on a series of meetings and engagements in an effort to find an "inclusive way forward" on the Ardoyne/Twaddell impasse.

She called on the business community, civic society and political leaders to "step up to the plate" and help reach a resolution. The move comes after Ms Villiers controversially ditched a previous Government proposal to set up a panel of experts to examine the stand-off.

The Parades Commission has prevented Orangemen from parading past the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood at the conclusion of the Twelfth of July demonstrations for the last two years.

While there was no trouble last summer, previous years have been marred by serious loyalist and republican rioting.

Ms Villiers announced in December that she had scrapped the panel of experts proposal, claiming it had not received sufficient support from both sides of the community.

While her decision was welcomed by nationalists and republicans, it was denounced by unionists and Orangemen.

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In a keynote speech to Queen's University's Institute of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice in Belfast today, Ms Villiers will insist her decision was not part of any "side deal" emerging from December's Stormont House Agreement.

"It was not part of any deal or side arrangement between the United Kingdom Government and any of the parties at the talks," she said.

"There are no such deals. My decision was not taken in the face of any threats or ultimatums from anyone; none was made.

"But even though the panel proposal is not viable, I accept that we cannot just go on as we are in north Belfast."

Ms Villiers will call for a new process "to bring the two sides together and take us closer to resolving the impasse" although she will admit those she has discussed it with are "sharply divided as to what form it should take".

"But is important to avoid a Groundhog Day repeat of the work which led to the failed panel proposal.

"To have any chance of getting off the ground successfully, any new initiative needs to come about through the efforts of a broad range of people, from different backgrounds and different sides of the community."

Ms Villiers and she and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Andrew Murrison would convene the series of meetings.


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